By Jessica Bartels, Copywriter, SUNation Solar Systems
There once was a baby girl named Rachel, and this baby had a wonderful babysitter. Just ask Brian Karp, he certainly thought so. This babysitter played a very special role in Brian and Rachel’s lives alike. She was the reason that Brian met Rachel’s dad, a comradeship that would prove to be an important one for nearly 150 people in the foreseeable future. At the age of 13, Brian’s mom sent her son to apprentice with Rachel’s dad working for his electrical business. And so, began the mentorship of Brian Karp under Scott Maskin’s trusty leadership and Brian’s pursuit of a technical path.
Throughout high school, Brian continued to work with Scott over the summers to earn income and gainful work experience. At the age of 23, while working at AMF Lanes in Sayville, Brian was approached by Scott with a new and exciting proposition. The year was 2006 and Scott and his cousin Mike had recently endeavored into the unchartered industry of solar energy on Long Island. Sunpower Systems at that time had consisted of Scott Maskin, Mike Bailis and Scott Sousa and the guys needed some help with system installations. So, Scott asked Brian to join them in this business venture. In a leap of faith, Brian submitted to his instincts to entrust Scott once again and boarded the metaphorical ship that would become SUNation.
Beginning as a helper on the roofs, Brian was unsure of what to expect from this new role, however, he was confident that he could figure things out given his construction background. Little did he know he’d recruit friends who would become future department leaders, implement structure, systems and regulations, and establish and oversee an entire operations department. A member of the original founder’s club, Brian had gone from being 1 of 5 employees, to managing 57 employees within the areas of service, warehouse, and residential and commercial Installation. From technical mentee to Operations Department VP, through working in various positions to creating new positions, SUNation has yielded Brian tremendous opportunity and development over the past 13 years.
Brian’s mechanical and technical background not only serves him well in the realm of his career, but also manifests through his passions, hobbies, innate creativity and artisan capabilities. With a knack for hands on work, Brian undertook the reconstruction of his home, followed by that of his sister’s, and rebuilt them from the ground up to surpass energy efficiency standards. With prideful reflection on the outcome of his efforts, Brian began to explore woodworking as a craft. As the fifth generation in his family trained in aviation, he intertwined two of his passions with his first project, an airplane rocker gifted to his niece that was modeled after his father’s airplane. An heirloom was created, and simultaneously Brian’s discovery of Zen and his true calling. Karp Wood Workings was born, and a wood-craft prodigy unveiled.
A talented visual artist, Brian excels at executing the conceptualizations of others, as well as his own. As a result, Karp Wood Workings operates in the capacity of specialty item productions that are all custom ordered and created. The pieces are not typical woodworking creations but rather works of art that often feature paintings and unique staining work. Examples of this are Brian’s two signature items, a detailed cutout of Long Island with etched or painted personalization, and the American flag masterfully glued together stripe by stripe of individual pieces of wood. Additionally, Karp Wood Workings has completed projects such as children’s toys, furniture, signage, shape cutouts and lock boxes, to name a few. But Brian’s philosophy on his creations is that while he ultimately has the advantage to pick his projects, he will try everything at least once and will never give a customer a piece that he is not completely happy with. He will redo the project over again until it is done right, truly representing a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Karp Wood Workings is steadily gaining recognition through word of mouth, social media and its affiliation with SUNation. While operating as a local one-man shop, Brian receives additional assistance from SUNation family in respect to marketing and scaling the business. Allison Maskin helps Brian manage his social media, which recently reached the milestone of 500 Facebook likes, a 50% increase from the previous year. Tammy and Jim created his logo which now gets wood stamped onto each piece he creates, and Tammy regularly assists Brian with graphic renderings for his hand routing machine utilized in the production process. In turn, Brian enjoys giving back to SUNation through his craft in gratitude for what SUNation has given to him. He has made a desk for Jim, an anchor table for Scott to complement his nautical themed office and has donated projects to various charities and causes. Brian receives no greater pride than seeing the materializations of the heart and meticulousness he pours into each piece proudly displayed in people’s lives.
From the growth of his very own department at SUNation, to that of his business and his family, Brian is proud of what he has established and believes the future is bright with many new beginnings being built. Exploring the incorporation of new materials and techniques into his work, Brian is in the process of creating a desk to feature a Long Island cutout surrounded by epoxy to resemble the neighboring bodies of water. He, his wife Heather, and their dog Finn are in the process of building a new home where Brian envisions growing his family and his business with what is sure to be the most meaningful creation to date; an airplane rocker for his future child replicated after an old airplane that he and his Father built together. The generational beauty and symbolism in that is heartwarming and sure to leave a lasting legacy for the generations of Karp’s to come.